JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Mar. 1, 2003) - East Tennessee State's women's basketball team boasted six players scoring in double figures for the second time this year, as the Buccaneers closed out the 2002-03 regular season with a 85-79 win over Wofford Saturday afternoon from Memorial Center.
ETSU (9-18, 6-12 SoCon) extended a five-point halftime lead into a 16-point advantage just four minutes into the second half. However the Terriers (4-23, 1-17), who forced 14 turnovers in the final 20 minutes of action, rallied back to tie the game at 61-61 on a Brie Bradshaw (Cincinnati, Ohio) jumper with 9:10 left to play. The Lady Bucs struggled late in the game, but never allowed Wofford the lead due primarily to clutch free throw shooting and timely defense down the stretch.
"I told the team at halftime that we needed to go out in the second half and take control," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. "We came out strong and built a little lead, but then we relaxed. We can't do that. When we get teams down like that, we have to be able to put them away and not let them back in the game."
Wofford held the Lady Buc's leading scorer Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.) to just six points on 2-of-11 shooting from the floor. Seniors Misty Copas (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Samantha Copeland (Evansville, Tenn.), who were honored prior to the game during the team's annual "senior night" ceremony, picked up the slack. Copas grabbed seven rebounds and scored 16 points, tying her for the team-high in scoring with freshman point guard Adrienne Walker (Augusta, Ga.). Copeland added 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range.
Juniors Jessica Lonon (Sylvania, Ga.) and Lauren Trantham (Asheville, N.C.), along with freshman (Baltimore, Md.) added 10 points each. Trantham also tallied a game-high 10 rebounds, giving the forward her ninth double-double of the season, which leads the Southern Conference.
Sophomore guard Ricaye Harris (Muncie, Ind.) scored 22 points, dished out seven assists, and had five steals to lead Wofford. Freshman Nakia Mister (Irmo, S.C.) put together a nearly flawless shooting performance, going 8-for-9 on field goal attempts for 18 points, while pulling down eight boards. Bradshaw and senior guard Jenn Stasie (Hebron, Ky.) netted 13 and 11 points, respectively.
With the victory, ETSU snapped a four-game winless streak heading into the 2002-03 Mountain Dew Southern Conference Women's Basketball Championships Mar. 5-8, in Charleston, S.C.
The Lady Bucs are the No. 8 seed heading into the tournament and will face No. 9 College of Charleston in a first round play-in game. The two teams will play at 5 p.m. on Mar. 5 at McAlister Field House located on the campus of The Citadel. Wofford will take on the Davidson Wildcats at the same venue directly following ETSU's game with the Cougars.